Beam Her Up, Scotty
01/20/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
FUNNY, BUT KIM CATTRALL DOESN'T look Vulcan. She has large, liquescent green eyes and an earthy allure that is beginning to earn her, at 35, roles as sexy, upper-middle-class women like Judy McCoy in Bonfire of the Vanities. But here she is in a jet-black blunt cut and pointy ears as Valeris, Mr. Spock's bewitching protégée in the latest interstellar bonanza, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
A long-standing fan of the show but a newcomer to the cast, Cattrall so enjoyed the flight-deck camaraderie among the veteran crew that, after maintaining a professional demeanor throughout the four-month filming, she broke down on the last day, repeatedly fluffing a simple line and finally bursting into tears. "It was the end of the movie," Cattrall says in the living room of her modest two-bedroom home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, "and I thought, 'I don't want to go away.' "
The Trek family was certainly pleased to have her aboard. Cattrall designed her own hair and makeup, even the first Vulcan hair band, and worked out with Spock himself the details of her scenes, including one in which she and Spock meld minds. ("I get to have safe sex with Leonard Nimoy!" Cattrall said.) "She made an enormous contribution," says Nimoy. "We were lucky that she arrived when she did." Adds director Nick Meyer: "She somehow managed to be an emotional unemotional Vulcan."
That mixture is likely the result of growing up in a home where love was more plentiful than money. Born in Liverpool, she moved to Canada's Vancouver Island with her parents at the age of 3 months. Her father, Dennis, was, as she delicately puts it, "in and out of construction," while her mother, Shane, was a housewife (Kim is one of four children) and part-time secretary. Says Cattrall: "It was basically the old story of the immigrant coming over with $20 and a bicycle." A visit back to England when she was 11 led to a year's study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art while she lived with a great-aunt. Back in Vancouver, she graduated from high school at 16, then won a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. "I really felt like Andy Griffith from Mayberry," she confesses. "I was such a country bumpkin."
In her last year at the academy she won a part in director Otto Preminger's Rosebud (1975). Cattrall, unhappily, was unused to film—and to Preminger's celebrated rages. "After that," she recalls, "I raaaaan back to the theater, thinking, 'These people are nuts!' "
She returned briefly to Vancouver, then played repertory in Toronto until she landed a contract at Universal in Los Angeles. Her first break came in the 1980 drama Tribute. In Los Angeles, she met and married German architect Andreas Lyson in 1982 (she was briefly married in her early 20s to a Canadian writer). She and Andreas tried to maintain an intercontinental marriage for five years, then separated and were finally divorced in 1989, she says, "when the miles got the better of us." Nonetheless, she and Lyson, who has since remarried, have remained close. "Maybe his new wife doesn't like it so much, and I feel bad about that," she says. "But I'm not going to deprive myself of his friendship."
Meanwhile, Kim was suddenly getting low-down, high-profile parts, including that of a revealingly attired rookie cop in Police Academy and the horny gym teacher in the 1981 teen-sex comedy, Porky's. She doesn't apologize for the roles. They helped her learn comedy, she says, and pay the rent. Still, roles like Bonfire were part of her "conscious decision not to play girls anymore."
This year Cattrall will appear in a sci-fi thriller, Split Second, with Rutger Hauer and in the murder mystery Double Vision as a set of twins. Clearly she has had little spare time, though she did fly to Nairobi to spend the holidays with friends and plans to participate this winter in several celebrity ski events in Aspen. Indeed, it's all getting a little heady for the levelheaded Cattrall. "I want to ride high and clear on Star Trek while it's doing so well," she says. "Then I'll regroup from there."
KRISTINA JOHNSON in Los Angeles